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Articles

Here you will find an overview of the journal articles and articles published in edited volumes by the research group and its members.

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2018

Public Intellectuals, Neo-Nationalism, and the Politics of Yasukuni Shrine

Mark R. Mullins

Yasukuni Shrine remains a controversial site in contemporary Japan. In spite of its name, “peaceful country,” it has been associated with war, militarism, and social conflict throughout much of its history. Established initially to memorialize those soldiers who gave their lives in the battles fought for the restoration of imperial rule, it became the site to enshrine all of those who perished in Japan’s wars of imperial expansion from the late nineteenth century until 1945. During this period, the shrine was under the administrative control of the Ministries of Army and Navy, and financially supported by the government. Shinto priests were employed to conduct the services, but it is worth noting that the chief priest was often a military man. Although the rituals conducted at the shrine followed Shinto protocol, the government regarded them as “non-religious” ceremonies that were necessary to provide official recognition for those who sacrificed their life for the nation and Emperor. The annual events held at the shrine were used to inspire and mobilize the Japanese for war, celebrate military victories, and memorialize the war dead.


Mullins, Mark R. “Public Intellectuals, Neo-Nationalism, and the Politics of Yasukuni Shrine.” In Japanese Studies down Under: History, Politics, Literature and Art. Edited by Nanyan Guo and Takashi Shōgimen. Overseas Symposium Proceedings 23. Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 2018.

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2018

Religion

André Laliberté

China is considered one of the few countries of the world where a majority of the population is classified as atheists. The numbers provided by the State Administration of Religious Affairs over the years used to claim that around 100 million Chinese are religious believers. These numbers are considered unreliable and deficient, and the Pew Research Institute, using a combination of official census, self-reporting from religious organizations, but also surveys it commissioned, such as the Spiritual Life Study of Chinese Residents by the Horizon Research Consultancy Group, in 2007, arrived at very different conclusions. Thus, on the basis of surveys completed in 2010, the Pew Research Institute estimated over 224 million Buddhists, 68 million Christians, and 24 million Muslims. It did not count Taoists, but instead counted over 294 million ‘folk religionists’, a category defined by beliefs in gods and spirits associated with Chinese folk religions. Adding to that number beliefs and practices such as Fengshui, karmic retribution, etc. the categories of folk religions and ‘unaffiliated’ could include an even greater number of people. Even if one would believe in survey results showing the largest numbers of people practicing a religion, however, China would still count the largest number of non-believers and atheists in any country, at 700 million.


Laliberté, André. “Religion.” In The Sage Handbook of Contemporary China. Vol.  2. Edited by Weiping Wu and Mark W. Frazier, 779–98. London, Los Angeles, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage, 2018.

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2018

Geopolitics of Buddhism

André Laliberté

This paper argues that Buddhists still lack an international organization that could help them present a unified voice the way that the World Council of Churches does for non-Catholic Christians, or the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, for all Muslims, whether they are Sunni or Shia. There exist international organizations that claim to speak on behalf of Buddhists the world over, but they compete against each other. The basis of this competition has little to do with the differences between the Mahāyāna, Theravāda, and Vajrayāna schools, but owes a lot more to competition between Asian great powers, in particular China and India. The paper will demonstrate this by first presenting an historical account of the different attempts to create a unified Buddhist international organization, along with different transnational Buddhist institutions.


Laliberté, André. “Geopolitics of Buddhism.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 25 (2018): 395–427.

2018

Prolegomenon to thinking about Buddhist Politics

André Laliberté

Unbeknownst to those who do not pay attention to the religious dimension of politics, there exist important political parties dedicated to the advancement of a Buddhist perspective on public policy. Such groups are comparable to the Christian Democrat political parties that promote theologically based policies. Examples of political parties with a Buddhist identity include the Komeito (Party of Clean Politics) in Japan, the Palang Dharma (Power of Dharma) Party in Thailand, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Heritage Party) in Sri Lanka, and the Cambodian National Sustaining Party. These organizations have expressed a wide variety ofviews, but they all claim to articulate a Buddhist perspective in their respective countries. It remains difficult, however, to identify any common feature that we could qualify as inherently Buddhist, especially if we were to look for a shared point-of-view that found its expression on the international stage. It would be even more difficult if we were to look beyond the narrow realm of political parties to include lay Buddhist associations, such as the Soka Gakkai in Japan, or the Dhammakaya in Thailand. Such groups try to influence politics outside the realm of formal institutions through social service activities. In other words, is it possible to distinguish a Buddhist perspective in contemporary politics emerging from such diversity?


Laliberté, André. “Prolegomenon to Thinking About Buddhist Politics.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 25 (2018): 373–94.

2018

The Japanese Jesuit Contemptus Mundi (1596) of the Bibliotheca Augusta: A Brief Remark on a New Discovery

Katja Triplett

The duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, August the Younger (1579–1666), assembled one of the largest collections of books and manuscripts in seventeenth-century Europe at his residence in Wolfenbüttel, creating a world-renowned library that is today known as the Bibliotheca Augusta. In about 1662, the duke purchased an unusual 1596 print in Latin script of a religious work offered to him as Tractatus de contemptu mundi in lingua Japonica. It was included in the ethica and not, as one would expect, in the theologica section of his collection, and this may be one of the reasons why the Jesuit print has not been listed in the currently most complete bibliography of prints of the Japanese Jesuit mission press compiled in 1940 by Johannes Laures, S.J., and later supplemented. Apart from the Augusta print only two other prints seemed to have survived. The article introduces the new discovery and outlines possible reasons for the hitherto relative invisibility of the print.


Triplett, Katja. “The Japanese Jesuit Contemptus Mundi (1596) of the Bibliotheca Augusta: A Brief Remark on a New Discovery.” Journal for Jesuit Studies 5, no. 1 (2018): 123–27.

2018

Law: Modern: Family

Nadja-Christina Schneider

According to the 2011 Census of India, more than 172 million Muslims live in India, roughly 14 percent of the total population. They constitute not only the biggest Muslim minority worldwide but also one of the largest religious minorities in the world. Over the last four decades, the massive discrimination and increasing violence against Muslims in almost every sphere of society and politics, as well as the economy, has often been downplayed or flatly denied, especially by supporters of Hindu nationalism, which emerged as a very powerful political force in India following the Emergency period of the late 1970s.


Schneider, Nadja-Christina. “Law: Modern: Family.” In Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures. Edited by Joseph Suad. Leiden: Brill. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1872-5309_ewic_COM_002162. First published online: 2018.

2018

Sacred Space

Ursula Rao

Mircea Eliade (1961) begins his classical study of the sacred and the profane with a chapter on sacred space. He conceives of sacred spaces as opposite to profane spaces. They consist of spiritual centers that break up the homogeneity and neutrality of geographical space and by doing so provide nodal points around which cultural universes can be constructed. Sacred spaces are ambivalent.They are located in the here and now and at the same time function as openings, thresholds, portals to another world, a world of gods and spirits, a larger universe, the cosmos.This formulation encapsulates the conflicting conceptualization of religious sites as simultaneously places and spaces. In social geography space and place are posed as opposites. Places are demarcated locations that result from homemaking activities. People inscribe their individual or collective selves into a territory and thereby create meaning and identity. In contrast space is conceived as nonmaterial and expansive. It is unspecific, unmarked and boundless. While religious space is often identified with concrete places it is also endless, extending the human world into another realm. Religious action demarcates sacred sites. The latter root people and divine powers in a shared territory.However, while they belong to people, they are not constrained by the limits of the human world. In order to comprehend the ways in which spiritual power is enshrined in landscapes it is useful to consider their association with material objects, collective rituals, and bodily orientations.


Rao, Ursula. “Sacred Space.” In The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Vol.  35. Edited by Hilary Callan, 1–7. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2018.

2018

Women as Islamic Authorities: What A Forgotten History Means for the Modern Middle East.

Mirjam Künkler

Although the history of Islam includes numerous examples of women transmitting hadith (i.e., sayings of the prophet), writing authoritative scholarly commentaries on the Quran and religious law, and issuing fatwas (rulings on questions of Islamic law), women rarely perform such actions today. Most Muslim countries, including those in the Middle East, do not allow women to serve as judges in Islamic courts. Likewise, few congregations would turn to women for advice on matters of Islamic law, or invite women to lead prayer or deliver the sermon (khutba).

For decades, Sudan and Indonesia were the only countries that permitted female judges to render decisions on the basis of the Quran and hadiths (which are usually conceived as a male prerogative only). And only recently have religious seminaries in Turkey, Morocco, Iran, and pre-war Syria opened their highest degree programs to women, thus enabling them to develop the expertise in Islamic law required to issue fatwas. 


Künkler, Mirjam. “Women as Islamic Authorities: What A Forgotten History Means for the Modern Middle East.” Issue brief, Rice Universitys Baker Institute for Public Policy, Houston, Texas, February 10, 2018. 

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2018

Secularity beyond the West: Religion-state relations in the modern era

Mirjam Künkler, John Madeley, Shylashri Shankar

In his magisterial ‘A Secular Age’, Charles Taylor interrogates the nature of secularism in the West and its gradual emergence over five centuries. Taking this work as their lead, Mirjam Künkler, John Madeley and Shylashri Shankar have edited a new volume which investigates whether Taylor’s conclusions regarding secularity can also be applied to other regions. This detailed study finds that his thesis is not readily applicable to other parts of the world where religion-state relations remain strong and religious belief cannot readily be reduced to one option among many.


Künkler, Mirjam, John Madeley, and Shylashri Shankar. “Secularity beyond the West: The Continued Prevalence of the Marker State.” London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Religion and Global Society Blog, October 2018. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionglobalsociety/2018/10/secularity-beyond-the-west-religion-state-relations-in-the-modern-era/.

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2018

The Bureaucratization of Religion in Southeast Asia: Expanding or Restricting Religious Freedom?

Mirjam Künkler

Although the narrative of the secular state is pervasive, most countries in the world do regulate the religions in their jurisdictions in one way or another, and thus, public commitments notwithstanding, do not abide by a secular-separationist ideology. The data by political scientist Jonathan Fox is instructive in this regard. His Religion and State Dataset illustrates that not only do the majority of authoritarian states in the world interfere with the religious lives of their citizens by suppressing, promoting, and molding various elements of their majority and minority religions, but democracies also do so, albeit with different means and generally on a lower scale. By funding religious education, imposing censorship on religious or secular content, and granting tax breaks to some groups but not others, democracies, too, interfere in the religious market. In most states in the world, therefore, there is little evidence of a “free” religious marketplace. To the contrary, most religious markets are characterized by state-driven distortion of the competition for the faithful. And, as Fox has established, state-driven regulation of religion has even increased since 1990. Worldwide, since the end of the Cold War, states have placed higher restrictions on minority religions and greater regulations on the majority religion.


Künkler, Mirjam. “The Bureaucratization of Religion in Southeast Asia: Expanding or Restricting Religious Freedom?” Journal of Law and Religion 33, no. 2 (2018): 192–96. 

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2018

Religion als konfliktärer Faktor im Zusammenhang mit Rechtsextremismus, Muslimfeindschaft und AfD-Wahl

Gert Pickel and Alexander Yendell

Die aktuellen Diskussionen im extrem-rechten Spektrum sind in starkem Maße durch ihren Bezug auf die gegenwärtige Migration geprägt. In diesem Zusammenhang werden auch die Anknüpfungspunkte der rechtsextremen Bewegungen und Parteien an Themen der Mitte der Gesellschaft – durchaus kontrovers – diskutiert, übersteigt doch die Abwertung von Geflüchteten und Asylbewerbern bei Weitem das sonstige rechtsextreme Potenzial in der deutschen Bevölkerung. Dabei ist bislang unklar, inwieweit es sich bei diesen Haltungen gegenüber Geflüchteten und Zuwanderung um erste Tendenzen einer gesellschaftlichen Ausbreitung rechtsextremer Einstellungen handelt. Auch ist noch offen, ob die Polarisierung der Bürger in ihren Einstellungen zu Flucht und Migration den gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt oder gar die demokratische politische Kultur (Almond & Verba, 1963; Pickel & Pickel, 2006) in Deutschland gefährdet und einer Radikalisierung von Teilen der Bevölkerung Vorschub leistet (Pickel & Pickel, 2018). Ein Ansatzpunkt zum Verständnis dieser Dynamik könnten die Bezüge auf die religiöse Zugehörigkeit von Geflüchteten sein, die in den öffentlichen Debatten hergestellt werden.

Pickel, Gert, and Alexander Yendell. “Religion als konfliktärer Faktor im Zusammenhang mit Rechtsextremismus, Muslimfeindschaft und AfD-Wahl.” In Flucht ins Autoritäre: Rechtsextreme Dynamiken in der Mitte der Gesellschaft. Edited by Elmar Brähler and Oliver Decker, 217–42. Forschung psychosozial. Gießen: Psychosozial-Verlag, 2018.

2018

Entwicklung der Religiosität in Deutschland und ihre politischen Implikationen

Gert Pickel

Religiosität ist die individuelle Ausprägung des Religiösen. Ihre Verteilung in einer Bevölkerung gibt Auskunft über die soziale Bedeutung von Religion in einer Gesellschaft sowie über ihre aktuelle gesellschaftliche Tiefenwirkung. Struktur und Verteilung von Religiosität sagen auch etwas über die Legitimität von religiösen Gemeinschaften aus. So kann etwa eine Kirche als Sozialform des Religiösen über kurz oder lang nur dann gesellschaftliche Bedeutung besitzen, wenn Gläubige mit Bezug zu ihr existieren und sie eine hinreichende Zahl an Mitgliedern repräsentiert.


Pickel, Gert. “Entwicklung der Religiosität in Deutschland und ihre politischen Implikationen.” In “Religionspolitik.” Edited by Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. Special issue, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 68, 28-29 (2018): 22–27.

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2018

Konfessionslose in Deutschland

Gert Pickel

Die Anzahl der Mitglieder der christlichen Kirchen in Deutschland ist sinkend. Im Gegensatz dazu ist eine kontinuierliche Zunahme von Konfessionslosen festzustellen. Diese Entwicklung deutet in die Richtung eines Säkularisierungsprozesses. Aber auch andere Interpretationen sind möglich. So könnten die Konfessionslosen zwar in Distanz zur Organisation Kirche stehen, aber persönlich, individuell religiös sein. Der empirisch abgesicherte Beitrag kommt zu dem Schluss, dass Konfessionslose eine vielfältige Gruppe sind, allerdings diese Vielfalt begrenzt ist. Die meisten Konfessionslosen sind auch nichtreligiös oder religiös indifferent. Nur eine kleine Gruppe von vier ermittelten Typen besitzt noch religiöse Spurenelemente. Der wichtigste Grund für die beobachtete Entwicklung ist die Erosion religiöser Sozialisation in den letzten Jahrzehnten. Dies bedeutet: Religiöses Wissen und Anschlussfähigkeit an religiöse Kommunikation erodieren. Auch Spiritualität ist dabei kein Ersatz. Im Gegenteil, eine nicht unwesentliche Zahl der Kirchenmitglieder der evangelischen und katholischen Kirche in Deutschland bezeichnen sich ebenfalls als nichtreligiös oder glauben nicht mehr an Gott. Es existiert eine enge Verbindung zwischen christlicher Religiosität und Kirchenmitgliedschaft, aber eben auch zwischen Konfessionslosigkeit und Nichtreligiosität. Die soziale Seite von Kirche spielt dabei eine positive Rolle für die Mitgliedschaft. Zukünftig ist ein Weiterlaufen des bislang beobachtbaren Prozesses einer zunehmenden Entkonfessionalisierung und Entkirchlichung Deutschlands sehr wahrscheinlich.


Pickel, Gert. “Konfessionslose in Deutschland.” In Handbuch der Religionen. Edited by Michael Klöcker and Udo Tworuschka, 1–28. Bamberg: Mediengruppe Oberfranken, 2018.

2018

Religion als Ressource für Rechtspopulismus? Zwischen Wahlverwandtschaften und Fremdzuschreibungen

Gert Pickel

Aufgrund der Säkularisierungprozesse seit 1945 bestand in Sozialwissenschaften ein relativ stabiler Konsens hinsichtlich eines fortschreitenden Bedeutungsverlustes von Religion für Politik in den Demokratien des Westens. Die aktuellen Diskussionen um Integration, Islam, religiöse Pluralisierung und Populismus fechten diese Annahme an. Es stellt sich die Frage, in welchem Verhältnis Religion und Religiosität zu den seit 2015 verstärkt zu beobachtenden rechtspopulistischen Tendenzen in den europäischen Demokratien stehen. So weist eine Studie der amerikanischen NGO PEW gerade Christen als besonders anfällig für die im Rechtspopulismus wichtige Ablehnung von Migration aus. Das deutsche Beispiel zeigt unterschiedliche Positionen von Christen zu rechtspopulistischen Inhalten, es besteht allerdings keine klare Richtung des Effektes von christlicher Religiosität. Finden sich bei einer Gruppe an Christen wahlverwandte Vorstellungen zu rechtspopulistischen Argumentationen, besteht bei vielen Christen eine starke Opposition gegenüber Rechtspopulismus und seinen Inhalten. Möglich ist eine verstärkte Polarisierung in der kirchlichen Mitgliedschaft gegenüber der Gesamtbevölkerung. Wichtiger ist, dass Religion in anderer Weise eine tragende Rolle in den Debatten zum und des Rechtspopulismus einnimmt. Die (zugeschriebene) religiöse Zugehörigkeit ist der Schlüssel für den Argumentationsbogen des neuen Rechtspopulismus und stellt eine zentrale Grundlage des Erfolges rechtspopulistischer Gruppierungen dar.


Pickel, Gert. “Religion als Ressource für Rechtspopulismus? Zwischen Wahlverwandtschaften und Fremdzuschreibungen.” Zeitschrift für Religion, Gesellschaft und Politik, no. 2 (2018): 277–312.

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